Negligence Hamstrings Armenian Diplomacy

Armen Kouyoumdjian, Former vice-president, Armenian Community of Chile
Valparaiso, Chile, 17 November 2010

In response to Keghart.com editorial team’s Clannish Mindset Impedes Armenia’s Progress  Mr. Kouyoumdjian mailed us a letter authored by him and addressed to H.E. Mr Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Dr. Hranush Hakobyan, Minister of Diaspora. It relates to appointement of an Honorary Consul of Armenia in Chile. It is distrubing what Mr. Kouyoumdjian reveals.

The text is presented to the readers of Keghart.com without editing.

Armen Kouyoumdjian, Former vice-president, Armenian Community of Chile
Valparaiso, Chile, 17 November 2010

In response to Keghart.com editorial team’s Clannish Mindset Impedes Armenia’s Progress  Mr. Kouyoumdjian mailed us a letter authored by him and addressed to H.E. Mr Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Dr. Hranush Hakobyan, Minister of Diaspora. It relates to appointement of an Honorary Consul of Armenia in Chile. It is distrubing what Mr. Kouyoumdjian reveals.

The text is presented to the readers of Keghart.com without editing.

Armen Kouyoumdjian
Country Risk Strategist
Casilla 1150 Correo Central
Valparaiso CHILE
Phone 56-32 2612142 Fax 56-32 2612180 Cell 56-99 224 1060
Email [email protected]
November 17, 2010
H.E. Mr Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.E. Dr. Hranush Hakobyan, Minister of Diaspora
Erevan, REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

Your Excellencies,

I am writing this letter to draw your attention to the isolation and obstacles faced by the Armenian Community in Chile. Though we are small (around 120 registered members, maybe a couple of hundred more around), not only have we made extraordinary efforts to show our dedication and commitment, but I think that the survival of the smaller communities is more important than the large ones, which will always find a way to get through. We in Chile have no school or church, nor the facilities for cultural activities. Not a single senior official from the Republic of Armenia has visited us since independence, and when from time to time low level Chilean delegations visit Armenia, we are never informed, before, during or afterwards, about the purpose, development and consequences of their trip. There is virtually no trade between Chile and Armenia, and a minimum number of travellers in either direction.

Though we are mainly a middle to lower-middle class community, with no millionaires among us, we managed to make a significant contribution in the launch year of the All Armenia Fund. Seeing that it would not be possible to keep it up regularly, we chose instead to sponsor a specific project, and from 1997 to 2009, I myself single-handedly spent over a quarter of my savings in supporting the AveMaria classical female choir in Yerevan. On top of that, I also sponsored the presence of five Armenian journalists to the Cannes film festival over the years. I made 11 trips to the country between 1998 and 2009, meeting with both your ministries and other organisations, giving talks and being interviewed on the media. I attended the last Diaspora Conference in Yerevan, and helped set up the Spanish-language library at Villa Delenda in Erevan.

In Chile itself, we kept the Armenian cause flying high in the media, managed to sabotage a dinner given on April 23 some years ago by an extremist Turkish organisation, convincing the Chilean president not to attend. Talks, conferences and media interviews were made regularly. The Armenian embassy concurrent in Chile from Buenos Aires was regularly informed not just of Chilean developments, but also about the activities of the Turkish embassy and government in its relations with Chile. Last but not least, we managed to have a Genocide recognition resolution passed unanimously by the Chilean Senate.

Some years ago, the ambassador in Buenos Aires asked me to coordinate a committee to act as unofficial liaison with him. As I am semi-retired and with good contacts, I took the job on almost singlehandedly.
I was offered the possibility of becoming Honorary Consul, but I do not live in the capital, have no infrastructure as I work from home, and limited resources, so I did not accept the offer. Nevertheless, I carried out many of the activities an honourary consul would have done. I even made the yearly trip to Buenos Aires to attend the celebrations of independence each September.

Suddenly, in March 2010, the embassy stopped all contact with me and our community, not answering messages or reacting to requests and queries. We carried on our business as usual but the situation was increasingly puzzling. Finally, I heard at a diplomatic party, from a journalist close to the Foreign Ministry, that a Chilean lawyer had been formally accredited as Honorary Consul of Armenia to Chile on September 10 last. This person, whose only link to Armenian affairs is that he helps Eduardo Eurnekian in some of his Chilean businesses, not only I am sure has no knowledge of the culture, history, geopolitics and diplomacy of Armenia, but the fact that it took him two months to make himself known to the community (and that, only to the chairman of the board of the community) shows how little interest he has in carrying out the job as it should be. He also has a rather shady past in the diplomatic service when he served the Pinochet government.

I, and many other members of our community, find it unacceptable that not only such a person should be appointed to represent Armenia and the Armenians in Chile, but even more so as neither he, nor the embassy, consulted, informed or confirmed the fact to us until we heard it from another source, quite by accident, two months later. On top of all the other neglect, it is an affront to the community, though I am writing this letter on a purely personal basis.

The situation of Armenia is such that it requires special care in putting across its case, particularly in countries such as Chile where it is little known. To suddenly kick away people who have helped for years in money, effort and dedication, without even so much as keeping us informed or saying thank you, is an unacceptable attitide. I have resigned from all Armenian activities myself, because I am obviously not wanted.

Respectful regards,

Armen Kouyoumdjian
Former vice-president, Armenian Community of Chile
Former ad hoc liaison with the Embassy of Armenia
Former Adviser for International Affairs, Armenian Community of Chile

 

4 comments
  1. Shocked by the Attitude

    Dear Mr Kouyoumdjian,

    I am shocked by the attitude of the junta in Armenia. It makes you wonder who is at the helm, and and how are we going to achieve our ultimate goal: The recognition of our genocide, compensation, restitution, return of our lands from Turkey.

    I wouldn’t say that Mr. Eurnekian sabotaged your stance, but somewhere down the line of communication some idiot did not even consult you regarding these matters, or at least ask for a de facto advice. Yet again, diplomacy is virtually absent in our nation.

    Finally, Mr Kouyoumdjian, "Vartsket gadar" for all that you have done and for your successful sabotage of Turkish propaganda. As the Armenian proverb say, "Carry on with your good work. If men don’t see it, God will." One day, someone will recognise your deeds, but do not expect it to be in this life.

    Regards,
    Shahe
    UK

    1. Tripartite Plot
      Dear Shahe,

      Thank your for your kind words. You may inadvertently have put your finger on the answer. Eurnekian has big business projects in Chile, and it was probably a tripartite plot between him, the ambassador and the new consul, thinking it would help the "cachet" of Eurnekian’s business. What it certainly does not help is the Armenian Cause, in which they are obviously not very interested because they would not even bother to inform the person who was doing most of a consul’s job without recognition, for many years.

      Sincerely,
      Armen

  2. Enigma of a Foreign Minister ?

    Sireli Armen,

    It has been some 32 months since Eduard Nalbandian was appointed foreign minister of Armenia. The thing that has been stuck in my mind about him is the alleged utterance of the President of France: "What Foreign Minister of Armenia when he travels foreign countries with Russian passport?"

    True that he paid a one-day visit to Lebanon last year, but I don’t think that he has attempted to reach to the Diaspora. Maybe he thinks that it is not his job, but that of the Diaspora Minister. I am not sure if he speaks Armenian. The Armenian Embassy in Washington listed that he speaks French, English, Russian and Arabic. Armenian was not mentioned. To give him the benefit of a doubt, his speaking of Armenian may have been taken for granted. In any event, he is more of enigma for a foreign minister of Armenia, as far as I am concerned, especially when comparing him with his Diaspora-born predecessors.

    Common courtesy would have demanded that the Armenian Embassy not only inform you but consult you ahead  of time of the new development, especially after your long-standing mutual relationship. Furthermore, the embassy should have informed you and the Armenian community of the functioning of the newly-appointed honorary consul, who apparently is not living up to the qualification and does not seem to relate to the Armenian community in Chile.

    I commend you for sharing your experience with us and your single-minded devotion to the Armenian cause and to Armenia. Considering the size of the Armenian community in Chile, you have worked a miracle in campaigning for the passing a unanimous resolution for the recognition of the Genocide in the Chilean Senate. "Vartsgt Gadar". 

    Seerov,
    Vahe

    1. More about FM Nalbandian
      Dear Vahe,

      Thanks for your learned comments. I would be surprised if Nalbandian did not speak Armenian,  particularly if he comes from the Arab world where nearly all Armenians (contrary to the Americas and Europe) speak the language.  Anyway, I do not care too much about this, nor about which passport he travels with, but do care a lot about the way the appointment of the ill-named ("honorary") consul was dealt with, as you so well described.

      A couple of years ago, we were told that Nalbandian was coming to Chile. Our small team went into top gear to make the visit successful  (I happened to be good friends with the then-Chilean foreign minister, deputy-foreign minister,  the head of European department and director of protocol). We liaised with them despite continuing contradictory information being fed from the embassy in Buenos Aires. The visit date changed twice, then shrunk from three days to 24 hours. We frantically tried to adapt and the foreign ministry here bent backwards to accommodate the situation. A couple of days before the date, we were told he was not coming.

      Sincerely,
      Armen 

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